Sunday, September 09, 2007


The site of the former gardens of Fray Manuel Blanco (author of the richly illustrated Flora de Filipinas, 1837) is now being bulldozed to make way for a covered area. This place used to be one of Manila's favorite choice as a reception venue. The walls over there are what remained of the structure that used to stand here before WWII.

A room overlooking the gardens, probably a recreation area for the monks.

The hallways of the 2/F.

The courtyard as seen from the 2/F.

The room holding the monastery's vast collection of Philippine and Chinese jars.

Many artifacts like this are just standing on the hallway of the monastery. The windows are open 24/7, there is no temperature control, etc. Makes one wonder how long before the whole thing collapses under the humidity of Manila weather.

Not everything here is antique, however. I have no training on antiquities but a casual look at this one, I can tell that it was just recently made. Probably a reproduction of a much older altar piece.

The hallways are lined with huge, huge portraits of Augustinian monks, saints, and martyrs. They probably are around 3X2.5 meters in size. This one is either a new work (notice vivid colors) or an old one that was retouched. I hope the museum is getting good advice in this tedious process of reviving dying canvasses.

The San Agustin Church interiors as seen from the choir loft. A wedding is ongoing, one of a series of weddings that happen here every Saturday.

The Church's simple rose window.

Detail. Ceiling of the choir loft. The lower portion looks like water has started eating into the paint. This destruction must be arrested as soon as possible before the paint "bubbles". OMNES GENTES means "all the people".

Music sheets made of sheep skin. In November of 2007, the 9th San Agustin Organ Festival will bring to life the 18th century organ's pipes again. A 360 degree view of the choir loft can be viewed here courtesy of Fung Yu of Firefly Digital Designs.

The intricately carved seats for choir members. Nothing much has changed here since my 1st visit when I was 7 years old (I am 31 now). Same old dark, dusty choir loft. I saw a 1920 photo of this loft and the seats weren't there. When were these added? Did the monks use this area before for prayers (Lauds, Matins, etc.)?

Detail. The organ's pipes.

Detail. One of the 4 legs of the music sheet stand. An angel is holding on the hair of a naked maiden whose arms rest on the back of two fu dogs. Anybody knows the significance of this one?

The room where the vestments are held. Some of the vestments are either missing (note empty cabinets) while some have been transferred downstairs. Note ceiling.

Detail. An embossed vestment usually used for certain ceremonies like the exposition or parade of the monstrance holding the Holy Eucharist. The art of doing these kinds of vestments is still very much alive in certain ateliers in Manila.

Detail. A processional banner. Notice to future visitors. Photography has now been allowed inside the museum except for certain rooms which contain the museum's prized possessions. Please be reminded to turn off your flash.

Ouch, that hurts! Detail of a San Miguel statue, pinning the devil down with his spear. San Miguel holds a special place in old Manila's history as the archangel was said to have been seen waving his sword over the walls when Spanish Manila was besieged by foreign invaders (read: prates). Details can be read from Nick Joaquin's MANILA, MY MANILA.

Detail. A mitered head of a bishop.

Detail. Wounded knee of San Roque (also Saint Roch, San Rocco) with his benevolent dog. He was a French nobleman, born in 1295. Even in youth he had compassion for the poor and sick. There is a legend that he had a birthmark of a red cross on his chest (which is why the symbol of the international charitable healthcare organization is the red cross.)

Orphaned when he was only 20, he gave his fortune to the poor to the point of becoming a mendicant pilgrim. He might have been a member of a Franciscan Third Order.

Roch once encountered an area afflicted with the plague. He ministered to the sick and dying, making miraculous cures that happened when he crossed himself over them. He contracted the disease himself.

In a forest where he had gone to die, he was befriended by a dog. The dog fed him with food stolen from his master’s table, and Roch recovered.

Roch returned in 1232 to his birthplace, Montpellier, where he was arrested for being a spy. He languished in jail for five years, never mentioning his noble origins and his good works. He was cared for by an angel until he died in 1237.

He is the patron saint of bachelors; of the sick, especially of invalids and those with knee problems; of falsely accused people; of those praying for relief from pestilences; of the towns and cities of Barano, Castropignano, Orsogna and Patricia in Italy; of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople) in Turkey; and of Tagbilaran, Bohol, here in the Philippines.

Sculptures, Philippine santos images and paintings of San Roque always show him holding a pilgrim’s staff and with an exposed knee with a plague sore. There are angels, a dog and a bread bun. Sometimes the dog is shown licking his infected knee.

His feast day is on August 16.

The ceiling of the monastery's dome.

Detail. Grand staircase leading to 1st floor of the monastery.

Another view of the fountain.

These walls were obviously just recently cleaned and renovated. Hmm. I wonder if that's a good thing. The concrete looks so new.

The fountain at the center of the monastery's courtyard. Post-wedding photos are usually taken in this area. A bigger fountain - and a much more beautiful one at that - also stands in the courtyard of Cebu's Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, the premiere Augustinian enclave in Central Visayas.

A view of the remaining belfry of the church. There used to be two.

A huge bell welcomes (and says farewell) to visitors upon their entrance and exit.

The San Agustin Museum & Monastery
General Luna (formerly Calle Real del Palacio) cor. Sta. Potenciana Sts.
Intramuros, Manila
Phone: +63 2 527 4061

Entrance fee: Php 80 (US$ 1.72)

1 comment:

dodong flores 도동 플로오리스 said...

Excellent virtual tour of the place through your photos. Thanx for sharing...
The captions are great too for added information...